First I want to say thank you to Emily for sponsoring this week and bringing all of the contributors together. I really appreciated all of the responses and enjoyed the Golden Girl discussion this week.
One of the most interesting things I found in my research comparing archetypes across series was that in Living Single the child archetype, Synclaire, was also from Minnesota. It is interesting how these series marked these places in very particular ways. Maybe there is something unique and exotic in simplistic and naive ordinariness of the people and the town. As a Midwesterner I am not sure how to make sense of the stupidity except to laugh. If only life were that simple!
Thanks for bringing this up. Sophia’s agency is something we also wanted to address in our clip, but ultimately didn’t have space enough to do so. In our clip’s episode, Sophia defies Dorothy by leaving the house and going back to the daycare center to be with the residents even after she was “fired.” Sophia puts together a dance party for them, and in general has fun. Our post doesn’t fully account for Sophia’s quick-wittedness and ability, in some ways, to outsmart Dorothy, Rose, and Blanche, and that is something we did wish to address more.
Great, observation Thomas. We’ve also talked about Rose’s employment as an issue related to aging in the show. We recently watched “Job Hunting” from the first season of the series, when the grief center Rose is employed at closes. This episode presents a bit of an inconsistency in the series, as the episode ends with Rose gaining employment as a waitress, but in future episodes the center is open again and Rose works with them. In some ways, the series shied away from talking about the elderly in blue collar jobs that require manual labor, like kitchen service.
Your response brings up an important point that the mother-daughter dynamic between Dorothy and Sophia is not always reversed. The characters in The Golden Girls are complex, just in real life, and thus take on several roles given the situations they are in. For example, in the seventh episode of Season Seven, “Zborn Again,” Sophia takes on the role of mother when she is dissuading Dorothy from seeing Stan again.
We had a good laugh re-watching this clip. :) This scene brings to mind one of our favorite things about The Golden Girls: the way in which the show empowers women to seek out their own desires, whether it be the food they eat (cheesecake!), the men they love, or the ways in which they choose to express themselves.
What a great post and clip! This is Blanche at her best because although I agree completely that the series supports sisterhood, sometimes this is a lesson Blanche has to learn. I think it is a function of the sitcom formula, where there is a disruption in the friendship, then all is resolved at the end. As I mentioned previously, Blanche does pit herself against the others because she believes she is so much more beautiful than the others. The other thing I might say is Dorothy marrying at the end of the series challenges the cautionary tale about feminism that heterosexual feminist women end up alone and miserable, but I also realize this happily-ever-after narrative is very conventional and there are lots of other ways to create a full life and alternative family, which is what these series do in their totality. But back to Blanche…to say that their decision to buy condoms is “morally and socially responsible” might get lots of push back today. Does anyone know if a Focus on the Family-type group boycotted the episode or series?
I’ve often wrestled with the politics of that last episode in particular, as it seems, at first blush, to tame Dorothy and to finally rehabilitate her spinster persona. However, I think the final scene of that episode reveals something more complex, as it focuses, not on Dorothy’s relationship with Uncle Lucas, but instead with the extraordinary bond she has shared with these women for the last seven years. She says, “You’ll always be my sisters. Always.”
That line, to me, is a distillation of this series’ particular espousal of feminism. Even at the very end, it is the relationship shared among the four women that is given narrative and affective emphasis, rather than the strictly heterosexual one.
I’ve always loved this scene. Thinking back to Monday’s post on female archetypes, it’s interesting that Blanche is the one who makes the announcement, rather than Dorothy. The subject (sex) is obviously more in Blanche’s purview, but it is so often Dorothy who gives voice to the staunch, socially-conscious opinions.
I’m also interested in the last paragraph of your post. It’s true that their sexuality rarely gets in the way of their friendship (though on occasion, as you point out), and that they find a way to accommodate active sexual and romantic lives with profound familial, female relationships. But how then do you read the series finale (not thinking about The Golden Palace)? Is it inevitable in every story of women together that the story will conclude with a man whisking one of them away? Admittedly, I’m raising the question without taking a moment to think through other television examples, but I’m curious to hear what you think.
These are great questions. I agree with Bridget that a larger project on Dorothy and Sophia’s relationship would be interesting, especially given current population demographics. While there are many moments where you see Dorothy acting as the mother toward Sophia, there are many cases where Dorothy (and Rose and Blanche) still need their mother, Sophia. So much of Sophia’s role is about making fun of herself or being made fun of for her age, but there are also many moments where Sophia forces the others to acknowledge her agency. Don’t let her fool you, Sophia also uses the refrain, “What! I’m old.” to get away with things!
I continue to be amazed at the diversity of the fans of the series. When I show this to college students, they like it far better than Sex and the City and Living Single. It’s so funny to watch how engaged they become with this seemingly dated sitcom, especially given technology and access to less formulaic series.